Chinese Chongqing Dog

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Chinese Chongqing Dog

The Chinese Chongqing dog originated in the Chongqing and Sichuan regions of China many hundreds of years ago. They were successful hunters, and also guarded livestock and acted as watchdogs on rural farms. Their roles as working dogs ensured they survived the Communist ban on pets within China in the 1900s, and though they escaped extinction, the later SARS virus outbreak meant they were culled in large numbers. They are now thought to be as rare as the Giant Panda.

A breed with a distinctive appearance, their coat is short and sparse, meaning their black skin is often visible underneath. Their body is well-muscled and in proportion, except for their muzzle, which is noticeably short. Their ears and tail are particularly unusual; they both taper to a point and are often completely hairless.

Similar in behavior to many dogs who originated as guard dogs, the Chinese Chongqing dog is protective, loyal and potentially aggressive when it senses a threat. At times dominant, this self-assured and independent dog benefits from firm training and an experienced owner.

About & History

The Chinese Chongqing Dog is thought to be a very ancient breed, but there are limited records to prove this. Known to have originated in South Western China in the regions of Chongqing and Sichuan, it has likely co-existed with humans for at least two thousand years, as a guard dog and a hunter. Indeed, Chinese art work from the time of the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) depicts dogs that bear close physical resemblance to the modern Chinese Chongqing dog.

The Chinese Chongqing dog has many names, including the East Sichuan Hunting dog and the Bamboo Ratter. The term bamboo is used to describe this dog because of its unique and unusual tail; resembling a bamboo stick, it is straight, slender and hairless.

Traditionally used to hunt (either alone or in a pack), the Chinese farmers relied heavily on the Chongqing Dog to hunt a variety of species, including rabbits, wild boar, deer and birds. A multi-purpose dog, they also protected the farmers’ livestock and homes, and served as a source of food.

The breed’s popularity suffered a large setback when the Chinese Communist party deemed pet dogs a "symbol of decadence and a criminal extravagance at a time of food shortages", leading to a total ban on the ownership of pets, and to their mass slaughter. The Chinese Chongqing breed was saved from extinction due to the fact that it lived in remote, and largely unpatrolled mountainous regions, and because it was often classed as a working animal. Around 30 years after the outlawing pet dogs, in the late 1980s the ban was finally lifted. The popularity of the Chinese Chongqing dog grew, and they were imported from the South West of China around the country.

Sadly, the breed was to be dealt a second devastating blow, when in the year 2003, China suffered from a SARS (a viral respiratory disease) outbreak. A large number of the breed were killed, and their numbers dropped dramatically. Today, the Chinese Chongqing dogs are considered extremely rare, and there are thought to be less than 2,000 in the world. Despite this, their popularity is increasing, along with an increased national interest in native breeds within China.

Appearance

Chinese Chongqing Dog Large Photo
Keyser (Photo thanks to Irina Frankovich, LOVELY FROM BORDO KENNELS)

A medium-sized, sturdy and muscular breed, their powerful body is easy to appreciate due to the short length of their unusual coat. They are squarely-built, with a large head that has a distinctly short muzzle.

Their face has modest wrinkles; much less pronounced than those of their cousin the Shar Pei. However, just like their Chinese relatives, the Shar Pei and the Chow Chow, the Chinese Chongqing dog must have a blue-black discoloration to their tongue. Their ears are distinctive and will be one of the first things you notice when you encounter them. They are perfectly triangular, relatively small when compared to the overall size of their large head, and always stand very erect. Their tail is exceptionally unusual within the dog world: hairless, straight as a rod and pointed upright.

Males will stand at 40cm to 50cm, while females are noticeably shorter at 35-40cm. The shorter female will weigh between 15kg and 20kg, while the male will weigh 20kg to 25kg. Their skin is mildly wrinkled, and these wrinkles are visible due to their short and sparse coat. In fact, many members of the breed will display completely hairless ears, tails, muzzles and chests. Their coat may be a reddish brown or a dark brown colour, and their black skin may be visible underneath.

Character & Temperament

Depending on their use and lineage, the Chinese Chongqing dog will display varying traits. Dogs kept for working are typically more aloof with humans, and more driven and active. Those kept as companion animals will tend to form strong bonds with their family members and will be loyal and fiercely protective towards them and their property.

Due to their long history as a guard dog, this breed will be suspicious of new people, and has a tendency to show aggression. Very early socialisation is critical to enable this dog to interact safely with children and other animals.

Mixing with young children is not recommended due to this breed’s physical power and dominant personality. Similarly, it is not advised that the Chinese Chongqing dog be kept with smaller animals, for fear of their safety. A dog that was used as a hunter for so long will still possess their ancestors’ instincts and may act as a predator when presented with the opportunity. Keeping a male Chinese Chongqing alongside another male dog is ill-advised as they tend to show high levels of dog aggression.

Trainability

Photo of Chinese Chongqing Dog puppy
Keyser (Photo Credit: Irina Frankovich)

Due to the physical strength of this breed, its territorial nature and potential for aggression, this is not a dog recommended for a first-time owner. In the right hands, however, the intelligent Chinese Chongqing can be well-trained.

However, they are known to be a stubborn dog who does not live to please, and so their trainer must be dedicated and patient. The trainer must make clear that they are the leader of the relationship – a position which the confident and proud Chinese Chongqing dog will constantly question.

Health

This is a dog that was allowed to develop organically over time through natural selection rather than forced inbreeding. They have also survived for many hundreds of years in harsh climates with little human intervention. Both of these factors have ensured that the Chinese Chongqing dog is a particularly healthy breed.

With no relevant scientific studies having been performed, and there being such a small number of dogs to assess, it is difficult to say with any certainty what health conditions affect this breed. There have, however, been anecdotal reports of skin issues due to their partial hairlessness.

It is claimed that the Chinese Chongqing dog are an incredibly long-lived breed, often reaching the age of sixteen, and sometimes even eighteen.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Chinese Chongqing dog has moderate exercise requirements and would benefit from a vigorous, 30-minute walk each day. They will typically crave more exercise than this, however, and would happily tag along with you on hikes and long mountain walks.

As with many dogs, if the Chinese Chongqing is under-exercised, it is likely to display undesirable behaviours, such as hyper-activity within the house. They benefit from access to large gardens, but due to their high prey drive and dislike of strangers near their territory, the garden must be very secure.

Grooming

Due to the very short nature of their coat, this is a low maintenance breed that requires little intervention. They should be brushed weekly to help spread their natural oils over their coat and remove any dead fur. Over-bathing is not advised, as this may dry out the skin, and washing is only required if the dog gets particularly dirty or muddy.

Due to their potential to show hostility and aggression, it is highly advised that all routine grooming tasks are introduced to the dog at a very young age in order to increase acceptance. This should include tooth-brushing, ear cleaning, coat brushing, and claw clipping. In addition, the Chinese Chongqing’s wrinkles should be checked frequently, and the deepest parts of the wrinkle should be cleaned out regularly to prevent a moist dermatitis.

Famous Chinese Chongqing Dogs

Owing to their small population size, and the fact that they are so rarely seen outside of their native China, there are no famous Chinese Chongqing dogs in the media. Keyser, a dark brown Chinese Chongqing with his own Instagram and Facebook page, however, is thought to be the first every Chinese Chongqing dog imported to the UK.

Cross-Breeds

There are no popular cross breeds of the Chinese Chongqing dog.

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